Liberals promise to invest in tourism attractions
Industry to help drive where new fund’s money would flow
Liberal Party Leader Stephen McNeil announced an $8 million fund over four years to revitalize what the party is calling iconic tourism attractions at a campaign stop in Sydney Thursday.
The fund would be administered by Tourism Nova Scotia and McNeil said industry would drive where the money goes. They funds are intended to “maintain and enhance” existing locations.
“That fund will be controlled and run by our
Crown corporation Tourism Nova Scotia, they will work with private sector entities and look at where that money should be invested to continue to drive growth in the tourism season to build up what’s happened over the last three years,” the premier said during the announcement, held at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion in Sydney.
“It’s the first time in over a decade that we’ve seen positive growth in tourism in this province in three consecutive years and last year was the largest tourism season in this province’s history.”
The provincial money will be used to leverage from businesses and other levels of government. McNeil said the fund will help ensure that “worldclass” assets that draw visitors to the province are maintained and will continue to attract tourists.
The effort will be a partnership between the province and industry, McNeil said.
When asked if he truly views Cape Breton Island as the tourism industry’s “crown jewel,” as he said in his remarks, then why is the bulk of the tourism fund not being directed here, McNeil said it may be, if that’s the will of the industry.
“This would be building on stuff that we already have, so making sure that our iconic sites are there and improved but it will also be a question of whether the tourism association will work with their partners to be able to say, ‘OK, if we strategically invest here, will we grow our numbers?’” he said.
McNeil said a message he has regularly heard from tourism operators, including those in Cape Breton, has been a request for the province to work with them and allow them to take control of their own industry.
According to the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, the tourism industry employs more than 40,000 Nova Scotians.
In a column in the Cape Breton Post this week, political scientist Tom Urbaniak called for provincial party leaders to gather for a full debate in Cape Breton about Cape Breton, saying, “we need two solid hours of back-and-forth, probing questions and answers about the province’s role in turning the island around.” When asked if he would agree to take part in one should one be scheduled, McNeil said two televised leaders debates have already been arranged.
“We will continue to focus on the issues coming forward, we have said all along that we’re going to go out and talk to Nova Scotians,” McNeil said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to deliver our message to the people of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island.”
Later in the day, McNeil also visited Baddeck, Southwest Mabou, Port Hood and Port Hawkesbury.
Nova Scotians go to the polls May 30.